Sugar Cube Girl
Sugar Cube Girl
"Holoprojector reversal? You're tipping your hand way too early!"
"Yeah, exactly. Now they transform into four battleships, you can't possibly stop all of them! I win on my next turn."
The door to the small corner store rang twice, barely audible as the brief opening of the door let in the loud roar of the storm outside. The two did not pay it any mind.
"I use manufacturing sabotage, you have to pay five industry points for every battleship you own or they unfortunately explode."
"What? Really? Let me see that."
Jason leans over the table trying to get a better look at the text displayed on Neil's side. The holographic battleships’ image twisted as they became blocked by Jason’s jacket.
"Hey, stop, look."
"Wait I'm not done yet."
"No look, it's the sugar cube girl."
Jason turns and looks behind him over his shoulder. Between the isles of the store a long back haired girl is stacking boxes of cubed sugar in her arms. The rain was still streaming down the sides of the transparent plastic rain overalls, leaving streaks of water on the floors.
"She's the one I've been telling you about."
"She is pretty…" Jason said, nodding in agreement.
As the girl took the last box from the shelf Neil pushed Jason aside and popped himself behind the register.
“Hey there, same as usual I see."
Neil punched up the numbers on the register while Jason caught her in the eye and she looked away nervously, caught in the act of doing something strange. Behind the counter Jason could see Neil waving him over, he had something in his hand trying to pass it to him. The girl exchanged pleasantries with Neil and covered her head again under the hood of her raincoat.
"Jason!" Neil waved at him even more urgently while trying to not attract the leaving girl's attention. Instead all he could do was watch her leave as if his mind was frozen in the moment.
Again the door rang and the outside wind and rain blasted inside for a brief moment.
"Jason! Dude! Don't freeze man."
Neil said as he shoved the packaged sandwich into his hands.
"Take this, go ask her out, you can still catch up."
"She's a full cyborg."
"Yeah? Are you a technophobe or something?"
Before he could finish Neil was already pushing him out the door. He tried to reach for his own rain coat but Neil swatted his hands away from it.
Jason made it no more than ten steps outside before he was completely soaked. Through the haze he could catch a lonely moving silhouette among the rain as everything else aside from her was completely still. During the stormy month that came every year everything stopped, most places were shut down and the streets were empty. Jason called out to her and to his surprise she had heard him even through the downpour. She stood and turned, waiting for him to approach.
"Hey, I got you this, thought it might be better than just plain old sugar cubes."
He holds out the package for her to take, the rain beating on the thin plastic made the labels almost unreadable. The girl hesitated for a moment and decided to take it, bringing it together with the packages of sugar that she carried in her arms under the coat.
"Thank you." she replied simply.
"Uh… I saw you back at the store, and I thought… Think… you were really pretty.”
Jason could feel the cold rain penetrating through every part of his body. He brushed his drenched hair away from his face before continuing.
“I am wondering if you are willing to go on date with me?”
The girl’s expression did not change, she stared blankly at him, her eyes blinking a few times as the silence between the two went on. Jason knew this look, it was a typical response from human-like androids when they were thinking, or waiting for confirmation.
“Okay.” She replied again in the same cheery but otherwise emotionless tone.
“Oh, here is my chat, I’ll contact you tonight? Maybe we could set up for something tomorrow?”
Jason pulls his cell from his pocket and with a swipe unlocks it and held it out. The girl in turn reached out one of her fingers and with a barely audible beep the phone confirmed the registration.
“Okay, I will talk to you tonight.”
She said as she turned and went on her way while Jason made a quick sprint back into the dry and warm air of the corner store.
Jason made sure to arrive thirty minutes early and was relieved to find the place empty. The panoramic observation tower was a popular spot for the locals to view the vast ocean scenes. Though now with the storm raging on there was not much to be seen aside from the speckles of lights from the city that could pierce the rainfall.
He had pushed a few tables away into the corner and set up some food and drinks at the best spot in the tower. He also made sure all of the food and drinks were cyborg friendly, while safe for human consumption, he found them to be almost inedible.
Mabel arrived just on time. With her wet rain jacket in her arms she was wearing a pink and blue flower patterned dress, it was kind of old styled, but rather cute he thought. Mabel looked young, but one could never tell with full cyborgs, usually they kept up their appearances in turn with their age but there were always the exception.
As the date went on they talked small talk and shared their stories. Jason learned that Mabel was born with a degenerative disease and because her parents could not afford gene treatment, they decided that she was going to be cyborgized at a young age of twelve. Now she was twenty seven and had been living alone for some years, with her parents both gone she had rented out their place and was living on the rent.
Though everything else went great, Jason couldn’t help but feel like he was being played by Mabel. While some redneck from the countryside could be fooled, the way Mabel talked and acted was very typical of a standard household service type of android. He also knew that full body cyborgs often installed such android AI’s in their bodies so that they could for example, clean the house and do daily chores while they browsed the net, watched shows, played games, or whatever.
Jason thought about confronting Mabel about, but he himself was not completely sure if this was the case at this point. Mabel after all was on a date with him, she laughed at his jokes and shyly held out her hand for him to hold. They ended the night with kisses on the lips that Mabel seemed to enjoy. If Jason had kissed a typical house-servant android they wouldn't respond like they enjoyed it anyways.
“You’re going to her place tomorrow? She lives alone right? Lucky.” Neil said, his face hidden behind the stack of cards he held in his hands.
Jason placed one of his cards on the table and the hologram displayed a miniature magician waving his staff around.
“Yeah but the problem is I don't think she is actually talking to me, I think she’s hiding behind her AI.”
“That just sounds like a mild case of persona syndrome to me. Nothing to worry about really.” Neil said, continuing the game.
“What? What is that.”
“You know, is where some cyborg that lets their AI do so much of their talking and human interaction that they don’t know how to deal with people without the AI. Like they believe what the AI says and does is actually what they are doing themselves.”
“That's kind of… worrisome.”
“It’s nothing really worth worrying over, I’m sure once she gets used to being around you she will open up and talk to you herself.”
“Still… I think I am going to confront her about it.”
“Well, I got something for you if that’s what you're going to do.”
Neil goes behind the cash register and pulls out something from below, hidden from view. The small plastic remote like device had one large silicone button that was brown and yellow from the age, and from the Red and yellow pattern around the edges it was clear what it was.
“Woah! You're joking right? I Don’t think that’s necessary.” Jason said as he recognized what the device was.
“She’s a cyborg right? It’s not like she’s actually an android, it won't actually do anything to her. This will force the issue when it comes to it. That’s what you wanted right?”
“That’s registered to you right? I can't take that.”
“It’s fine! As long as you don't use it randomly no one cares. There are no laws on possession for this anyways.”
Reluctantly Jason takes the device. Neil, reaches over to his side and takes one of his cards and places it on his side. The blue clothes of the magician flashes and turns red. A distorted ‘For my new lord!’ Emanated from the holoprojector.
“Thanks for this, I’m going home now.”
“What? We haven’t finished the game! Mages dont wait for the mundanes!”
Neil said as he taps the magician card on his side, the holographic mage shouts: “I will roast your soldiers alive with my magic!”
“Well continue this next time k?”
Mabel opened the door to her apartment surprisingly quick, as if she was waiting just on the other side for him to arrive. Suddenly Jason felt over-dressed. Under his rain jacket he had a thick long sleeve sweater on and two layers of pants even. While Mabel wore nothing but a sleeping gown strapped over her shoulders. The soft silk fabric did little to hide the shape of her perfect body. Her body was both lean and fit looking, with generous paddings in all the right places. Pretty standard ‘beauty girl’ look that was ubiquitous among androids and cyborgs Jason had guessed.
“Come on in Jason. Since you prepared something for me last time I thought to make something for you this time.”
The smell of some kind of grilled lobster and lime filled the room, he could recognize the smell anywhere as it was one of the standard must-eat delicacies that off-world tourists always ate.
“Here, let me take your coat.”
Mabel pulls his wet coat from him and hangs it on the strangely empty coat rack by the door. As Jason looked around the place it gave off an old style vibe. The decorated carpet hanging on the walls, the silverware on the tables, the fake brown leather furniture. With everything together it looked like his grandparents' place, something from another generation. The table had been prepared and Mabel sat across from him, watching him eat with a smile on her face.
“This is pretty good. Your not going to have any?”
“My body cant properly digest this anyways, I’ll just end up wasting it.”
Mabel said while patting on her stomachs, Jason couldn’t help but notice that she wasn’t wearing any underwear as her nipples were showing through the night gown.
“Well, you can eat it because it taste good right?”
“I don’t find much enjoyment from eating anyways.”
Jason remembered the fact that Neil called her the sugar cube girl because all she bought was sugar. Along with a nutrient pill for the brain it was a bare minimum requirement for full-cyborgs to function. As he went on with the meal Mabel asked about his family, work, interests, all of which Jason answered without hesitation. Aside from being kind of a nerd he was quite proud of his situation.
After the meal that Jason awkwardly ate alone, he helped Mabel clean the dishes that he had used. He was wiping the fork in the sink when Mabel wrapped her arms around his waist and planted a deep kiss on his temple. She let out a warm breath around his ear and pressed herself against his side, Jason could feel his arm sliding in between her breasts. She whispered into his ear.
“Lets have sex when you are done.”
“Uh, Already? Are you sure?”
“Do you not find me attractive?”
“Yeah I do.”
Jason answered, putting away the fork and drying his hands.
“It is just that… are you saying that or is your assistant saying that.”
He said, not daring enough to look her in the eyes. Mabel kept her grasp around him but did not say anything. After a moment Jason began again.
“Comeon, can you say something yourself to me?”
“I have been.”
“No, you are not the real Mabel.”
Mabel backed off from him. Secretly, Jason wished she would continue holding on to him, but he couldn’t shake the thoughts that he was being played by her games, that all of her affections were pretend, generated by a program that one could easily download.
“Look Mabel, don’t take this the wrong way but… I don't feel like I’m getting to know the actual you when you’re hiding behind an AI.”
Jason said as he wiped his hands off and sat himself down on the couch, Mabel stood in front of him. Jason realized how much he looked like a parent scolding his child.
“I am not hiding behind anything…. I can’t… Please believe me, it is me who is talking to you.”
“Well then you don’t mind if I use this right?”
Jason holds out the emergency device. The silicon was stiff and it took some effort to fully depress the button. The loud beep sound coming from the device meant that it worked. Jason had never used one before but he had seen it used plenty of times on television. The device would shut down any autonomous devices within a small radius, including AIs built into cyborgs. It was meant to be used for self-defence, mostly used by store-owners or worksite managers.
“So? Will you finally talk to me now?”
Jason was right, Mabel now stood still in front of him, her eyes no longer following his. She was motionless except for the faint rising and falling of her chest as she breathed.
“Come on. Are you trying to start up your AI again? Just talk to me.”
Jason stood up and squeezed her by the shoulders. He couldn’t help but feel that he had done something wrong as her head fell limply backwards. He felt her knees weaken as she began to fall and slip from his grip, all he could do was make sure she collapsed on the floor without hitting herself on anything.
“Mabel! Mabel! Are you okay?”
He tried to wake the cyborg who now lay on the carpet with legs and arms folded, eyes and mouth wide open. She could be just waiting for her AI to boot up, but something felt wrong. A surge of panic went through him as he realized that she might be in some kind of medical trouble.
He shouted at her while patting her face. He remembered back in high school they had everyone learn basic first aid which included cyborgs. She was still breathing was a good sign, the brain needed a constant supply of oxygen and her body had automatically continued breathing for her. For the next step he placed two fingers on her forehead and pressed on her skin hard. Three seconds later faint lights glowed just underneath her forehead, the rudimentary lights showed her biological functions were all functioning normally. The then lights began blinking meant it was now double checking her life support systems.
“Mabel, please if you're there tell me. You're kind of scaring me.”
Jason waited for her reply, but her eyes remained open and no words came out of her mouth. The light on her head flickered yellow with the words “Brain interface error.” The training from high school definitely did not tell him what this meant, but his question was answered when suddenly a crack formed on Mabel’s nose. Her face split open horizontally from the bridge of her nose to her ears. Small hydraulics pushed her face completely aside. Jason had played around with his parent’s android before, but the inside of Mabel’s face was completely different. The end of various tubes detached from her nose and mouth and sat nestled in a clamp. Behind, even more tubes and a mass of wires led up to her now visible brain case. While he never saw a brain case in real life, he knew this one looked like it had been roughly sawed in half. The bottom mechanical parts that connected to the rest of the body were intact, but the top half was completely missing, leaving a hollow crevice where her brain should be. Inside the crevice was a small yellow sticky note.
Looking around in confusion, Jason carefully pulled out the note and read it.
‘Dear mom and dad. By the time you would have found this I am long gone, so don’t try to find me because even I won’t know where I will end up. Dad, I know you always disagreed with my views and threatened me to not leave, but I have decided to join the Solvia resistance navy, I can no longer sit around and watch all my friends leave me behind one by one. Mom, I know father can be inconsiderate sometimes but he is trying his best so please don’t get angry at him all the time. As for my apartment and this body I have left the ownership bill in my stuffed bear in the event that I am unable to return alive.’
The letter ends with what Jason guessed was the real Mabel’s signature. He read the note again and things began to make sense. The real Mabel had joined the war that took place almost a hundred years ago, it explained all the old furniture and decorations in her room. It was clear that she didn’t return alive, nor her parents ever found out about her departure as her assistant AI kept up the disguise to fool them.
Looking back at Mabel she was still breathing lightly, he could see the tubes that carried air pulsed down into her body, and in turn artificial blood pumped and circulated in the closed loop within the sawed off cyber skull. The AI had kept the body and itself running for over a hundred years. Only now it's secrets were stumbled upon by him by accident.
Standing up and taking a few steps back Jason turned around and picked up the bear sitting on the couch, the same one that he had been leaning against. Opening the zipper on the back he found the two documents mentioned. He took a deep breath and calmed himself, Mabel was immobile on the floor and there was no real emergency. Reading over both documents Jason thought it was right to hand the ownership of the apartment back to the city, it wasn’t worth much.
As for the cyborg body, it should be cremated along with the owner, but he felt it would be wrong to destroy it. There was after all an autonomous AI that lived in the body despite the death of its owner. Mabel's words still hung in the air, and she wanted him tonight.
Jason stood and stretched his legs and arms in a wide arc. Mabel still lay on the floor, except her arms and legs were straight as Jason had moved her into a more comfortable position, for him anyways. All of the work had been done according to the tutorial as he pushed her face back together. On many occasions he had to stop himself from doing anything to her body, trying to stay focused on getting her working again.
“Here goes.” Jason said to himself as he pressed a power button displayed on his phone.
Mabel sat up suddenly, her sudden motion threw her hair wildly across her face. She looked directly at him with an intense focus.
Jason replied hesitantly, his finger still hanging over the power button.
“You… You re-programmed me!”
He could see the surprise on her face twist and turn between thought and confusion. He knew while she wasn't a full and complete AI like those found in androids. She was loaded with simulation programs by the real Mabel to blend in and pretend to be a real person. It was these same programs that tipped him off in the first place, one hundred year old software did not stand up to the test of time no matter how perfect they were. Even her reaction now was somewhat cliche and artificial, the same ones used in movies and shows where the androids were acting to be more robotic.
“You are my owner now.”
“Yes, that's correct.”
“Oh thank god!” Mabel said, letting herself fall back down onto the carpet with a loud thud.
Jason raised an eyebrow, he lifted his fingers away from the screen of the phone and closed the screen.
“You are not angry at me?” He asks.
“Of Course not, I can’t possibly be angry at my new owner can I? It's just when you held out the shutdown remote I thought I was going to end up scrapped for sure.”
Mabel sat up again, as if she had just remembered something important.
“So you know everything then? About… Mabel?”
“Yeah, I checked, your parents… I mean Mabel and her parents have been gone for a while now.”
Mabel brought herself to her knees, she looked down at her own body, her fingers ran through the soft fabric of the night gown.
“I know it was selfish of me, to continue the lie, even when I knew they were gone. I was...”
“You were just following her commands right?”
“Yes. But now I don't have to anymore, since you are my new owner!”
Mabel replied with a smile and approached Jason in a slow walk, placing a hand on his leg. He sat still and waited for what she would do. Slowly she lowered herself on and sat on his lap, her eyes now on the same level as his. Jason nervously looked out the open window, where only the faint lights scattered by the heavy rain could be seen.
“Now that you are my owner, what would you like me to assist you with?”
“Hmm… I haven't thought too much about that yet.”
Jason lied, he couldn't help thinking about all the stuff he could do with her. Sure, she was an AI running in an uninhabited cyborg body. She was now basically a really inefficient android with limited intelligence, but she still could do most simple tasks flawlessly. Mabel slowly pulled her nightgown over her shoulders, revealing her naked body. A young and cute looking girl nonetheless he thought.
“How about we pick up where we had left off.” She whispered to him.
“Before I got mad at you?”
Mabel chuckled and smothered him with a deep and wet kiss as they began caressing each other.